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Showing posts from December, 2016

Now heres an unorthodox Christmas time blessing...

Thinking today of King Jesus who came to bring good news to the poor. Of Mary whose Magnificat exulted in the God who is near to the lowly. Of how easy it is to sadly not be "with" the poor as Jesus said his people would be.

Benediction (Franciscan Blessing): May God bless you with discomfort...
at easy answers, hard hearts,
half-truths, and superficial relationships.
May God bless you so that you may live
from deep within your heart
where God's Spirit dwells. May God bless you with anger...
at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people.
May God bless you so that you may
work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears...
to shed for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation and war.
May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with
enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference
in this world, in your neighborhood,
so that you will courageously try

He took our shame and came to redeem us in our scandal

This morning while reading the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1:1-17, I was freshly struck by the faithfulness of God to his promise and the redemption of God through our scandal.

In Genesis 12, we find the account of an ancient encounter between Abram and the Creator God. God makes a covenant with Abram, changes his name, promises to give him descendants as numerous as the stars which will bring blessing to all nations on earth.

In 2 Samuel 7, we find the account of another ancient encounter between King David and the Creator God, whom we now know in the narrative is the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaach and Jacob. Here, God makes another covenant with David, promising to uphold the throne of David, upon which he will one day set a King who will reign forever.

And here we have in Matthew's genealogy, the linking of these promises fulfilled 42 generations later in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who came to bring the gospel of the kingdom of God to all nations and who is crow…

What were my memorable books of 2016?

I don't read nearly as much these days. Or maybe not as much as I'd prefer in some idealistic (unreal) world where I get to spend a few hours a day soaking up good literature.

Mostly, I'm reading Goodnight, Gorilla, There's a Rumble in the Jungle or Fancy Nancy. (Let's be honest. I actually like children's literature.) And at bedtime, Anna has fallen in love with (routine?) my narration of homegrown stories. (In case you're wondering, I'm a terrible storyteller. I wish I were that dad whose stories inspire her to one day look back and marvel at the whimsical, imaginative stories I cooked up at bedtime, but alas, probably not. I'm learning slowly, though, at least about what kind of story she will likely enjoy.)

But in the margins of here and there, I have found time for a sampling of books in 2016. Here are some memorable ones:

More of Less, Joshua Becker

A helpful guide on minimizing excess (possessions) so you can focus on what's most important…

Working on a Family Vision and Mission Statement

Words matter. We are bombarded with messages every day. We have to be proactive to guard our hearts and transform our thinking to truth and purpose each day.

I want to be proactive to help guide our family in the way of Jesus. So, I've been slowly crafting a vision and mission statement for our family which we can post in our home to remind us of who God is, what he's done, who we are and what we are to do as a result. 

This exercise has been inspired by: 1) Deuteronomy 6, where Moses instructs God's covenant people to write the word of God on the walls and door frames of their homes and to talk about his instruction when at the table, when lying down and when walking along the road (i.e. all times, in every place!) and 2) The book What's Best Next

The vision we lean into:
Joyfully abiding in Christ for the good of the world

The mission of daily living:
A gospel anchored family who
Worships in all areas of life
Welcomes the stranger
Withholds nothing of resources entrusted to u…

Another RSVP this Christmas season? Advent beckons

It's the most wonderful time of the year. For me, at least, it typically is.

I truly enjoy this Christmas season full of festive cheer: hanging lights on the fir tree, unpacking the ornaments and memories from a dusty Christmas bin, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, making snow angels, sipping egg nog, watching Home Alone, wrapping gifts. Christmas!

As I grow older, though, my eyes are obtaining new lenses to see the gorge that often lies between Christmas and Advent.

Though the wider culture doesn't use the term "Christmas" any more, in view of the diverse beliefs represented in Western culture, Christmas still stands a monolithic tree whose branches reach wide in the culture. We've built an entire consumer mindset as well as a strong dose of nostalgia from this festive season of giving, having transgressed a two-thousand millennia wide boundary water from the banks of Bethlehem's stable. For many, Christmas - or "the holidays" - is a wonderfull…